Tanzanian police on Wednesday invaded and searched the residence of opposition legislator Tundu Lissu.
Mr Lissu, the Singida East MP and president of the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS), who is also Chadema chief legal officer, had been arrested at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court precincts on Tuesday and was still being held by the police during the operation.
According to the party and his lawyers, Mr Lissu was arrested and questioned in connection with allegations of sedition and insulting President John Magufuli.
His lawyer, Fred Kihwelo, told The Citizen outside the politician’s house in Tegeta that police officers searched the residence for two hours for evidence linked to the accusations, but found nothing.
“We are pushing for his release,” he said.
Mr Lissu’s wife, Alice, said police officers told her they wanted to search the house for documents linked to the exposé by Mr Lissu that a Bombardier Q400 aircraft bought by Tanzania has been seized in Canada.
“When they arrived they found me with a neighbour and my house-help. They searched for the documents, but they didn’t find anything. They took him (Lissu) back to Central Police Station,” said Mrs Lissu, who is also a lawyer.
This was the second time in a month police had searched the MP's house. They first did so on July 21 and took six CDs containing Mr Lissu’s 1999 research on a case involving the Bulyanhulu goldmine.
On Tuesday Mr Lissu was arrested as he was leaving the court where he had gone for a mention of a sedition case brought against him and also represent Chadema official Yericko Nyerere.
“As the car carrying Mr Lissu was pulling out of the precincts, it was blocked by two vehicles full of armed police officers,” Chadema spokesperson Tumaini Makene said on Tuesday.
“They ordered him out of his car and told him he was under arrest and he was was bundled into one of the police vehicles, which then sped away.”
Mr Lissu last Friday told a news conference in Dar es Salaam that he had been informed that a Bombardier Q400, which was expected to arrive in the country last month, had been seized in Canada following the government’s refusal to pay Canadian firm Stirling Civil Engineering $38.7 million (TSh83 billion) as compensation for breach of contract.
On Saturday, the government responded by accusing unnamed opposition politicians of sabotaging development projects initiated by President Magufuli.
The acting director of Information Department Services and Chief Government Spokesperson, Zamaradi Kawawa, said reports of the “Bombardier fiasco” were part of a wider mudslinging campaign being conducted by some opposition politicians and their foreign associates to sabotage Dr Magufuli’s government.
Ms Kawawa admitted that the plane had been seized, but quickly pointed an accusing finger at unnamed opposition figures, adding that investigations had been launched and the culprits would be arrested soon.
“The government is aware that some opposition leaders are behind this. It is part of a campaign to undermine President Magufuli’s efforts to bring development in the country, but their days are numbered...this betrayal will no longer be tolerated,” she said